We profile two of three young Māori dairy farmers recognised at last year's Ahuwhenua Awards. They tell us about their training and development during their journeys into dairying.
The Ahuwhenua Awards recognise Māori excellence in farming, and DairyNZ co-sponsors the awards' dairying categories.
Last year, the Ahuwhenua Young Māori Farmer Award for Dairy featured a strong line-up of finalists, including these two, winner Harepaora Ngaheu and runner-up Cheyenne Wilson.
Dairying proves to be a life-changing sector
Harepaora Ngaheu (27, Ngāti Awa and Te Whanauā Apanui) turned his challenging teenage years around in 2013, starting an eight-week farming course in Edgecumbe on the day before his 21st birthday.
"The second day of the course I got offered a relief-milking opportunity with Waiohau farmer Colin Wilson," he says.
"I had to make a decision — go to a party or go to work. I went to work and put the cups on.
"It was a life-changing moment."
Later he became a farm assistant for Wilson, then worked on other farms, before returning this year with his young family to contract milk for Wilson.
Now aiming to complete Level 4 and Level 5 of his Primary ITO Diploma in Agribusiness Management, Ngaheu says learning through books combined with the outdoor practical work was a great combination for him.
He's keen to inspire other young people, particularly Māori, into the dairying sector.
"I'm achieving my goals that I set five years ago and I'm setting new ones. There are quite a few people out there that I can't thank enough."
Leading the way for rangatahi
Southland-born Cheyenne Wilson (26, Ngāi Tūhoe, Ngati Awa, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Te Arawa) has set her sights on becoming a strong Māori female leader in the dairy sector.
Her start came via Southland dairy farmers Kevin and Wendy Dixon, when looking after their young son led to farm work. These days she's managing a 550-cow dairy farm in Culverden.
Wilson says the Dixons laid the foundation for her entry into the sector by supporting her to 'learn by doing'. In her second year there she also started studying at Primary ITO (now at Level 5, with the diploma in her sights).
"It's so important to have non-formal and formal training — you need both."
She also credits the Dairy Women's Network, Young Farmers and the Ahuwhenua Awards for opening doors.
"The awards process helped me realise my own story. I want to tell our rangatahi [young people] about dairy sector opportunities and what they can achieve."
has Country Calendar's December 2, 2018 episode, which profiles the Onuku Maori Lands Trust, overall winner of the 2018 Ahuwhenua Trophy.